When design turned flat. "It might sound audacious to think that Microsoft, the arbiter of uncool, was at the forefront of design a few years ago. But it was." ... My sense is that Marissa Mayer at Google actually is the one who set the trend long long time ago. Anyways, a welcome change. By the way, love the new Yahoo homepage Madame Mayer. ;-)
[Reproduced from the New Times 04/30/13]
The Flattening of Design
By NICK BILTON
It might sound audacious to think that Microsoft, the arbiter of uncool, was at the forefront of design a few years ago. But it was.
It turns out the company’s decision to focus on “flat design,” a type of visual scheme where everything has a smooth and even look, was a few years ahead of the rest of the technology and user interface industry.
While Microsoft was flattening its interfaces as if it were a child pushing down on a bulge of putty, its competitors – including Apple and Facebook — were focused on skeuomorphism, a type of look in which, say, a note-taking feature on a Web site or in an app would look like a spiral-bound notebook, a reference to the real world look of a notebook.
Now everyone seems to be following in those flat footsteps.
What if the next big thing in tech does not arrive on your smartphone or in the cloud? What if it lands on your plate? That idea is enticing a wide group of venture capitalists in Silicon Valley into making big bets on food.
[Reproduced from NYTimes.com]
By JENNA WORTHAM and CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Published: April 28, 2013
In some cases, the goal is to connect restaurants with food purveyors, or to create on-demand delivery services from local farms, or ready-to-cook dinner kits. In others, the goal is to invent new foods, like creating cheese, meat and egg substitutes from plants. Since this is Silicon Valley money, though, the ultimate goal is often nothing short of grand: transforming the food industry.
“Part of the reason you’re seeing all these V.C.’s get interested in this is the food industry is not only is it massive, but like the energy industry, it is terribly broken in terms of its impact on the environment, health, animals,” said Josh Tetrick, founder and chief executive of Hampton Creek Foods, a start-up making egg alternatives.
Some investors say food-related start-ups fit into their sustainability portfolios, alongside solar energy or electric cars, because they aim to reduce the toll on the environment of producing animal products. For others, they fit alongside health investments like fitness devices and heart rate monitoring apps. Still others are eager to tackle a real-world problem, instead of building virtual farming games or figuring out ways to get people to click on ads.
“There are pretty significant environmental consequences and health issues associated with sodium or high-fructose corn syrup or eating too much red meat,” said Samir Kaul, a partner at Khosla Ventures, which has invested in a half-dozen food start-ups. “I wouldn’t bet my money that Cargill or ConAgra are going to innovate here. I think it’s going to take start-ups to do that.”
In the last year, venture capital firms in the valley have funneled about $350 million into food projects, and investment deals in the sector were 37 percent higher than the previous year, according to a recent report by CB Insights, a venture capital database. In 2008, that figure was less than $50 million.
That money is just a slice of the $30 billion that venture capitalists invest annually, but it is enough to help finance an array of food start-ups.
It’s really interesting to see that silicon valley is constantly re-inventing itself. Bye bye stuffy and old hardware technologies. It’s now software, connected and vertical. And consumer-driven.
[reproduced from the Wall Street Journal]
Tech's Rust Belt Takes Shape
By DON CLARK And SHIRA OVIDE
Technology has long distributed its riches unequally. But the sector has seldom seemed so sharply divided between disrupters and the disrupted. Computing pioneer International Business Machines Corp. IBM on Thursday reported its revenue dropped 5% after failing to close big software and hardware deals. IBM is also in advanced talks to sell part of its server system business to Lenovo Group Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter, the same company that bought IBM's personal-computer business in 2005. Microsoft reported a strong gain in earnings for its third fiscal quarter with a 19% rise in profit and managed to surprise its investors. Google on Thursday provided more evidence it is weathering the storm of lower prices for online ads on mobile devices when the Internet giant reported stable revenue for the first quarter. Software giant Microsoft Corp., once known for rapid sales of PC software, reported that the business that includes its Windows operating system turned in essentially zero growth after one-time effects of software revenue deferrals. By contrast, Internet innovator Google Inc. said Thursday revenue grew 31% in the first quarter, while profit rose 16%.
The growth disparities are just the latest repercussions of technology shifts—including the rise of mobile devices and slowing growth in personal computers, the replacement of conventional software with online versions and outsourcing corporate internal computing operations to facilities run by other companies.
Tech's turmoil bears similarities to the way old-line industrial companies in America's Rust Belt lost sales to rivals in Asia and other regions.
But the disrupters this time are mainly domestic and born since the Internet revolution took hold in the mid-1990s, often offering free or low-cost alternatives to widely used products.
Facebook Home is a giant yawn and totally misreads the global mobile industry's end-users needs and wants. With that bold statement, I thought that, after a few weeks of hiatus, I would capitalize on this new Facebook announcement yesterday to follow up on my previous february. Because for as much as I was amazed at Graph, my sense is that Facebook Home is such a yawn ... At the current speed of high-school fabs, that might be another enormous disappointment for HTC (remember the beats audio fiasco ?).
Facebook Home Is Lipstick On A Pig
By Haydn Shaughnessy
[Reproduced from Forbes]
Facebook’s introduction of Home yesterday is belated recognition of mobile’s importance. But the mobile sector is innovating fast. What Facebook has done is provide a channel for its social networking services, lipstick on the pig. There’s plenty of money to be made that way, but can Facebook prosper in mobile without doing more, like going deeper into the phone or broader into services that really matter?
Mobile creates innovation in just about every facet of the economy, from the way we work, to our social lives, travel experience, shopping, and reading, and hopefully, some time soon, how we look after ourselves, so of course the world’s largest social network wants to be your mobile home screen.
But mobile strategy at the moment is really about the next 1 billion users not the one billion Facebook already serves. That means it is really not even about smartphones.
i blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech, Experiences and anything holistic.
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